By WES FERGUSON
Arguably the choicest retail spot in Buda is home to a place that sells used plastic barrels, next to a place that sells round bales of hay, next to an empty lot in the northwestern corner of Interstate 35 and Main Street.
Thousands of commuters drive through the intersection every day when they exit I-35 on their way home from jobs in Austin. But H-E-B passed on the location. So did Walmart.
“It’s the old dump site,” explained Warren Ketteman, Buda’s economic development director. “I’ve been trying to do something with it for the past 10 years.”
According to Ketteman, the land was once a “big hole in the ground” that owners operated as a private landfill for construction debris and other discards. In those times, the property seemed much farther from the metropolitan bustle of Austin.
“Look where it’s sitting,” Ketteman said. “They sure weren’t thinking one day it would be prime for retail.”
It’s prime now — but it’s also contaminated. Before the property can be developed, it must undergo very intense, very costly remediation.
Spence Collins with McAllister and Associates Real Estate Services in Austin has listed the property in four parcels and is in talks with remediation companies that would purchase the land, assume liability and pay for the cleanup.
“I’m in the middle of putting a deal together,” Collins said, while declining to be interviewed for this story. “At this point we’ve got some interest in the property. We’re hopeful it’ll work, but we don’t know yet.”
Attempts to reach the property owner were unsuccessful.
Only one of the four parcels is listed on the company’s website. At 21 acres, most of the property is zoned for light industrial and warehousing and is listed at $4.50 a square foot.
Ketteman said he’s been frustrated by the challenges presented by the former landfill, which he characterized as the front door of Buda, but he added that he’s optimistic about the progress made by Collins to sell the property.
“I think this might actually go somewhere,” he said. “I’m hopeful that it does. We’re going to see what we can do to revitalize that part of town because it deserves it. We have a lot of good partners out there, and we’ve got a big dump site.
“And that’s unacceptable.”